Bourbonnais, Ill. – Despite a 2-for-3 performance at the plate by freshman shortstop Alec Barnhart (Hometown, Ill./Oak Lawn Community) and a double and a run scored from sophomore third baseman Bryan Villanova (Chicago, Ill./St. Laurence), the Saint Xavier University baseball team could not get into a rhythm offensively and fell 7-2 to Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC) rival Olivet Nazarene University (Ill.) at Tiger Field Friday afternoon in Bourbonnais, Ill. The game was the first in a three-game conference series this weekend for the two teams. The Cougars (10-7 overall/5-3 CCAC) managed just six hits on the day over the nine-inning affair.
Senior right-hander Lucas Fritsch (Orland Park, Ill./Sandburg) suffered the loss, his first of the year (4-1), on the mound as Friday's starter. Fritsch threw 7.2 innings and allowed 11 hits, six runs (all earned) and no walks with four strikeouts. SXU fell behind 2-0 in the bottom of the third inning when the Tigers scored off a sacrifice fly and a RBI single in the frame. In the top of the fifth, Villanova hit a double and later scored from third base on a passed ball to cut the deficit in half, 2-1. However, ONU answered with a run in the bottom of the inning off a RBI on a groundout. Freshman centerfielder Jim Augle (Oak Lawn, Ill./Richards) drove home senior catcher Tony O'Shea (Valparaiso, Ind./Mount Carmel) with a RBI single in the top of the sixth to make it a one-run game again, 3-2. Unfortunately for the Cougars, the Tigers used four hits in the bottom of the eighth to score four more runs and pull away for good.
Saint Xavier (10-7 overall/5-3 CCAC) wraps up the conference series on Saturday, March 30, with a doubleheader (two, seven-inning games). The first game of the twin-bill is scheduled for a 12 p.m. start at Richard R. Ferrell Memorial Field in Chicago.